Central African Republic is serious threat to region - UN

Seleka fighters in the capital Bangui. March 2013 The Seleka rebel coalition toppled the president in March

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The UN Security Council has warned that the Central African Republic (CAR) poses a "serious threat" to regional stability, following a rebel takeover in March.

There has been "a total breakdown in law and order" the Council said.

Aid agency Save the Children on Tuesday warned that more than 100,000 children faced sexual abuse and recruitment into armed groups in the country.

CAR has gold and diamond deposits but has been unstable since independence.

Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has taken advantage of years of unrest in CAR to set up bases in the country.

CAR also shares borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Sudan and South Sudan - all of which are plagued by numerous armed groups.

'Mattresses stolen'

"The country runs the risk of descending into anarchy and chaos," UN CAR envoy retired Lt Gen Babacar Gaye.

Map

Fighters from the Seleka coalition which seized power in March, with no chain of command, are said to be sustaining themselves with looting and crime.

Gen Gaye said he was worried about plans to absorb some 1,000 former rebels into the police and paramilitary gendarmerie "without prior screening to determine their suitability," reports the AP news agency.

He urged the Security Council to support the African Union's 3,600-strong peacekeeping mission.

About a third of the country's 4.6 million people need assistance with food, shelter, health care or water, said UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, who recently visited the country.

More than 200,000 people have fled their homes and many are living rough in the bush, she said.

Save the Children spokesman Mark Kaye on Tuesday told the BBC that the country's healthcare system was in ruins after being looted.

"All the pharmacies have been hit. There are no medications, no drugs, equipment has been stolen.

"I've been to hospitals where even the mattresses have been stolen."

Michel Djotodia, who seized power from President Francois Bozize when fighters from the Seleka rebel coalition marched into the capital, Bangui, on 24 March 2013, has promised to relinquish power after elections scheduled for 2016.

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